A learner photovoice exhibition, which will be launched in Tallaght on 30th June by Senator Lynn Ruane, aims to celebrate the power of adult community education to transform lives. The Whirlwind and The Path comprises a collection of adult learners’ photos and narratives showcasing their experience of the Personal and Professional Development Certificate programme provided by An Cosán, Ireland’s largest community education organisation.
An Cosán, which is Irish for ‘the path’, developed this certificate programme over the past two years with its linked partner, South East Technological University. Members of the public are invited to attend the launch, which will take place in The Russell Centre, Tallaght, at 2pm on 30th June. Senator Lynn Ruane is a graduate of An Cosán, having completed several courses at the Jobstown community education centre before continuing her education at Trinity College Dublin.
Speaking ahead of the launch, An Cosán’s CEO Heydi Foster said: “The Whirlwind and The Path is a collection of powerful testimonies about being open to, and embracing, change. It is the culmination of a 12-month project that saw participants take photos that, symbolically or literally, reflected their journey into and through community-based higher education. “Through the exhibition, you will discover the motivations of adult learners, the challenges they experience, and the importance of supports, as well as the impact of their participation. Through their photos and narratives, our learners’ courage, resilience, tenacity, curiosity, and hunger to learn shine through. Among the issues raised are racism, substance use, bereavement, migration, domestic violence, learning difficulties, bullying, homelessness, and mental health.”
Thomas Murray, An Cosán’s Higher Education Lead and Photovoice Project Lead, said “The Whirlwind and The Path is a unique exhibition, which showcases the power of transformative community education and celebrates our third level learners at An Cosán. Participants include those priority groups most under-represented in traditional university settings.
“By showing how a diverse group of adult learners navigated very real changes and challenges (‘the whirlwind’ mentioned in the title), it is hoped the exhibition will encourage all adults in similar situations to consider returning to learning (‘the path’).
“An Cosan offers flexible provision, wraparound supports and transformative education. We are uniquely placed to welcome, assist, and encourage adult learners on their lifelong and life-wide learning journeys. We are grateful to the Higher Education Authority and to the South East Technological University for their contribution to this creative initiative.”
Barbara Flood, one of the participants who is now pursuing An Cosán’s BA in Leadership and Community Development programme accredited by South East Technological University, said: “When I initially heard about the photovoice project, my heart sank as I am not in any way arty or imaginative but, looking around for inspiration actually made me think about everyday things in a different light, and I ended up enjoying the project and the change in perspective it gave me. “If you’d told me a year ago I would be doing a degree, I would have laughed,” she continued. “But I’m much more positive in myself and about my future since doing the Personal and Professional Development course. It has changed my life so much for the better. I’ve met so many great people and had so many opportunities that I would never have had without An Cosán. I never would have been able to afford it, or to attend the classes in any other way, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity.”
Chantel Trytsman, a photovoice participant who is now working as a healthcare assistant, said: “Taking part was a great way to express myself; I could take any picture and write a story about what it meant to me. It made me think outside the box. It was a really mind blowing experience and a lot of fun.“I totally enjoyed the Personal and Professional Development course,” Chantel added. “It was something new and out of my comfort zone. Coming from direct provision, it helped me improve my confidence. Working in a group boosted my self-esteem and I have since secured a job in a local nursing home.”
If you would like to attend the launch of ‘The Whirlwind and the Path’ exhibition in the Russell Centre at 2pm on 30th June, please register here >> https://bit.ly/PhotovoiceLaunch
The exhibition will run from 10th to 14th July (10am-4pm) in An Cosán, Kiltalown Village Centre, Jobstown, Tallaght, D24 R3PN. See www.ancosan.ie for details.